Stolen Newspapers a Growing Problem on College Campuses


    By Kristen Radford

    At Weber State, the Oct. 27 edition of the WSU Signpost student newspaper was stolen from stands all over campus.

    Although police have no suspects in the case, it is believed that a story regarding the arrest of a campus professor triggered the thefts, said Allison Hess, faculty adviser to the Signpost. She said as many as 1,000 papers were stolen.

    After a similar incident in 2002, the Signpost added a line to the newspapers that says, “The first issue is free, additional copies are $.50.” Property damage could add up to nearly $500.

    Incidents similar to the Signpost case make headlines across the country.

    In Muncie, Ind., half the copies of one issue of the Ball State University newspaper went missing last month.

    “We”d like to think we”re good, but we”re not that good,” said Vincent Filak, adviser to the Ball State Daily News in an e-mail.

    In Utah Valley alone, advisers to both BYU”s Daily Universe and UVSC”s Seal have both reported stolen newspapers at one time or another.

    Robb Hicken, adviser to the Daily Universe, said there was an incident in 2000 where the university found nearly half the issue in dumpsters.

    Some students speculated the theft was because of controversial BYUSA election coverage, according to a Daily Universe article printed Feb. 16, 2000.

    “It”s definitely happened here before,” Hicken said.

    Advisers and faculty for college newspapers around the country are pressing theft charges when newspaper thieves are caught.

    But catching newspaper thieves can be a difficult task. According to the Student Press Law Center, there have been 120 incidents regarding stolen college newspapers reported to the center in the past five years.

    Of those 120, two have been successfully resolved with legal action.

    The center also reported that crime stories were the most frequent cause of newspaper theft.

    At Weber State, police are looking into surveillance cameras near the newspaper distribution stands. The papers there were removed across campus as well as from 12 of the 13 off-campus locations.

    Although Hess said she is worried about growing newspaper theft, a stolen newspaper doesn”t mean stolen news.

    “Of course the thief cannot remove the on-line version [of the newspaper]; that remains intact for the world to see,” Hess said.

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